Making an Application to a Tribunal
24th Oct 2018
Whether you are a landlord or a leaseholder, disputes are likely to arise. It is worth knowing what options you have to help resolve any issues. A First-Tier Tribunal is a less formal and quicker option than court and can also be a less costly way to settle any problems.
What is a First-Tier Tribunal?
Organised by Rent Assessment Panels under auspices of the Residential Property Tribunal Service, Tribunals are independent bodies usually consisting of a lawyer, a valuer and a lay person. They are governed by the ‘over-riding objective’ and may determine applications without a hearing.
Both landlords, freeholders and leaseholders have the right to apply to a Tribunal. The applicant does not have to be legally represented by a solicitor. In choosing so, they will be responsible for representing their case, as well as collecting the supporting documents and evidence as the Tribunal cannot aid applicants. They can, however give directions relating to submission of evidence for both parties. This includes expert evidence, reports, relevant documents and written statements. In some cases, there may be a short pre-trial review to help identify issues.
If there is an instance where several applications have been made on the same grounds, then the Tribunal may choose a lead case. All other cases will stay pending until it’s determination. Similarly, if an application is made by a leaseholder who wasn’t aware of a previous application of the same nature, the Tribunal may be bound by the previous decision.
The Tribunal has the power to strike out applications on the following grounds:
- It has no jurisdiction in relation to the proceedings
- Applicant has failed to comply with directions or to cooperate so as the matter can be dealt with in a fair and just way
- Manner of the proceedings are frivolous/abusing procedures
- No reasonable prospect of the case proceeding
When Can I Make an Application:
A Tribunal can assist in the following areas:
- Purchase price and terms of enfranchisement, lease renewals and extensions
- Liability and reasonableness of service charges, administration charges and estate management scheme charges (if disputed charges have already been paid, landlord may have to reimburse leaseholders)
- Sufficiency of insurance and reasonableness of the premiums
- Landlords/management waiving consultation requirement for certain works.
- Issues relating to acquisition of RTM
- Management problems i.e. landlord breaching obligations, removal/appointment of manager
- Lease variations
Cases that are not eligible:
- Right to enfranchise or extend/renew your lease
- Matter has already been agreed/admitted by the leaseholder
- Matter has been/is to be referred to arbitration pursuant to a post dispute arbitration agreement of which the leaseholder is a party
- Matter has been subject of determination by a court
- Landlord is a local authority, registered social landlord, housing association or resides in premises.
What Must Be Included in an Application:
Application forms can be downloaded from the Justice website but a written notice will suffice. Rules state it should be signed and dated, and include the following information:
- Names and addresses of the applicant and their representative
- Name and address of each person against whom the claim is made
- Name and address of any landlord or leaseholder
- Property address
- Copy of the lease
- Copies of any notice served
- Name and address of subtenant and copies of agreements (if relevant)
- Reasons for making application
- Result that the applicant is seeking
- Statement that applicant believes any facts stated are true
The following will need to be included where necessary for each individual application:
- Name and address of any person having a mortgage/other charges over an interest within the property
- Date on which landlord acquired property including terms of acquisition and sums paid where right of first refusal was not offered to leaseholders but wish to purchase freehold
- Service charge currently payable
- Copy of the estate management scheme
- Insurance premium currently payable
- Name and address of RTM company
- A copy of the memorandum/articles of association of the RTM company
- Draft of lease variation sought
The application should be accompanied by any relevant supporting documents.
Application and Hearing Fees:
Most applications are subject to a fixed amount payment of £100. If matters proceed to a hearing, another fixed fee of £200 will apply. If a determination is made without the need of a full hearing, no hearing fee will be payable.
Leaseholders will have to meet their own costs i.e. professional services. Landlord’s costs can also be recovered through service charges depending on provisions of the lease. This should be considered when making an application, although a further application can be made to The Tribunal to determine whether this should be waived.
Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber)
Some cases may be transferred to the Upper Tribunal if they are too complex or they involve an important principle law or large financial sum. Applications can also be made to the Upper Tribunal to appeal against the final decision. If permission to appeal from the Tribunal is denied, new applications can be made to the Lands Tribunal. There are strict limits to be adhered by and reasonable grounds will be required e.g. the Tribunal wrongly interpreted or applied relevant law.
Hopefully, we have helped you to understand how applying to a First-Tier Tribunal may be of help to you. We aim to make managing/ living in your property both simple and enjoyable. If you have any other questions, please contact the Blocsphere Team!